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Bike Profile - Posted 17th May 2010

1977 Morini 3 Strada
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Ian Dyckhoff has restored and ridden his Morini 350 twin in over a decade of ownership. Here's what he has discovered about the breed...

This 1977 Strada 350 was a well used hack which was imported to the UK from Spain in 1998, when I purchased it. After buying the bike, initially I gave the engine a quick top end rebuild, fitted a new cambelt (which is important on these engines), and also new tyres and a drive chain. It ran OK with a bit of fettling and I then used it for a year or so after registering it.

Someone, somewhere, thought that fairing looked great... 1977 Morini 3 Strada - As bought

The bottom end was beginning to get noisy so I had the engine out and did a full rebuild with new bearings and seals, reground crankpin plus new big ends but I was able to re-use the original pistons with new rings.

The exhaust threads were not too good so I had these repaired at 45 each, and at the same time had hardened valve seats fitted to the cylinder head so it would be fine to run on unleaded petrol (cost 42 each). The engine definitely prefers Super Unleaded, and now returns about 60mpg.

Phew. That's better... 1977 Morini 3 Strada - Ready for it's first MOT

With the engine rebuilt I carried on adding miles until it failed its MoT in 2002 with worn swinging arm bushes. So I decided that the complete chassis needed a full rebuild - the engine was still fine. This took some time and the Morini was only ready for use again in August 2005. The frame and associated components were powdercoated (cost 120). Taper roller steering head bearings (maintenance free!) and swinging arm bushes came from a member of the Morini Riders' Club. This conversion is expensive at 125 for the lot, but the job won't need doing again.

You can take lightening too far... 1977 Morini 3 Strada frame after being powdercoated

I had the exhaust pipes, mudguard stays and kickstart lever re-chromed (cost 200). The mudguards and chainguard are the original stainless steel parts so they're fine and I had already fitted Armours' stainless silencers at 145 per pair when the originals fell apart. The silencers were a good buy, although apparently the Armous stainless pipes are not easy to fit. The tank and sidepanels were professionally repainted in two-pack. All other Morinis are red, so I had mine done in blue!

Most of the fasteners have been replaced with stainless items and the front forks rebuilt with new seals. I fitted gaiters to keep the weather off the stanchions which are beginning to get pitted.

The electrics were checked over and any dodgy wires and connections were replaced. Despite their poor reputation, the original wiring looms, fuse box and so on haven't caused too many problems. Additional earthing points fitted to the ignition system aid easy starting.

I fitted a sports-type solo seat bought from eBay at 60. This bike is always ridden solo - for two-up riding we take my Ducati 750 GT.

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Since the rebuild the Morini has been amazingly reliable. The only really annoying fault is that the carb inlets have a habit of loosening in the cylinder heads, which is cured by using Loctite on the threads, if the bike is thrashed a lot.

Almost there... 1977 Morini 3 Strada after chassis restoration

Although it's not particularly fast, its handling and roadholding are really good even with fairly old rear shocks. I'm also impressed by the apparent unburstability of the engine. It really thrives on a lot of revs, almost like a two-stroke. When I took it from Liverpool to London after the Manx GP, on its first really long ride, I was surprised by the ease and speed of the journey on a 'mere 350', loaded with luggage.

The front disc brake could do with upgrading, either to a twin set-up or maybe by a change of master cylinder to give more feel to its operation. Also, fitting a front brake switch would be advantageous and I may also fit indicators.

And finally... 1977 Morini 3 Strada with humped seat

If you're thinking of buying a similar bike then join the Morini Riders' Club for a good insight into the 3. If you desire an early - expensive - one then look at a later model. These have certain improvements and you can retro-fit older bits when you can find and afford them. Don't bother with the electric start!


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